Days: 296 (17 April 2015)
Total distance travelled: 56,991.6 kilometres (35,398.51 miles)
In between the two halves of our Cusco experience, we took a little time out to visit a place nearby.
Machu Picchu, you may have heard of it…
Well we took our time getting there, doing the journey over a couple of days.
Our first stop, after a colectivo ride from Cusco, the small town of Pisac where we planned to visit the ruins of the same name.
Turns out we didn’t do our research so well here.
We got dropped off on the edge of town, our bus sped away, only then did we spy the first sign towards the ruins… 13km away (the ruins, not the sign)!
Wandering into town, taxi drivers were in abundance offering us what we felt were overpriced fares for a service up to the ruins.
So we decided to walk it…
Fortunately for us however we hadn’t gone far at all when a voice emerged from a car that was pulled up on the side of the road.
Turns out two tourist police officers, Elvis and Enrique had spied a couple of crazy gringos trying to walk, and offered them a ride which they gratefully accepted.
That’s how we got to the ruins in style, our new friends so helpful, they even waited for us whilst our tickets got punched at the main entrance!
Now at the ruins, it was time to explore.
To our left down the hillside tumbled a wall of impressive terraces, whilst ahead, atop a high ridge sat what we assumed to be the ruins themselves.
At this point, the place was flushed with plenty of tour groups, so we were in no hurry to just rush in, experience suggesting that it wouldn’t be all that long before the groups were gone.
With the throngin mind, when a small path to the side of the ruins emerged, rather than simply climb to the top where the crowds currently were, we took this alternative option, wandering on without any idea of where we were actually going.
First things first however, and we took the opportunity to grab some relief in a nearby restroom, passing by a different type of plumbing, still functioning after hundreds of years exposed to the elements!
Now, having thought ourselves savvy enough with our plan to dodge the crowds, we began to get down to our explorations, marveling at both the incredible stonework and the stunning views that seem to go hand in hand with wonderful locations found for these Incan sites.
We felt particularly intrepid as our path lead us through a narrow tunnel, so we continued on expecting the path to basically snake around the mountain.
The path did in fact continue… just not around the mountain as I’d initially assumed, but rather began to appear as though it lead back down towards the town!
If we kept going, we’d need to climb all the way back up!
Still, up ahead things looked pretty interesting, so we resolved to check them out (on the off chance our ultimate path back to Pisac proved different), and only then would we climb back up to the main site.
Again, as earlier, they truly knew how to find a location complete with a stunning view (I’m sure it was for defensible reasons, but hey, we can still appreciate their decision in other ways).
We wandered along behind an amusing Chinese couple who reside in New York, funny because he was so eager to snap a picture of her during the descent (she apparently had a morbid fear of heights), with her response to such a notion essentially being “You try and I’ll punch you in the fucking nose!”
It brought chuckles from all around… although her deadpan expression suggested she was rather more serious than that.
Twenty or so minutes later, and we’d laboured our way back to the main ruin site, incredibly, after all the tour groups we’d only recently left aloft, devoid of any other people!
The sun had also by now found itself somewhat obscured, so combined with the breeze felt in this more exposed location, it was actually much cooler than what we’d experienced during the ascent (I know, we were in a Police car).
Still, it was good to be able to explore the place in peace…
There wasn’t a huge amount to occupy us for long, although something I initially photographed purely out of curiosity was possibly more than simply a hole in the rock, but this was information that was still weeks away from being learned.
We began our walk back towards town, indeed taking the same path that had been our initial wrong turn, although we felt it probably all fell our way for the better in any case.
Given how steep it felt in points, we were incredibly thankful to only have had to make the trek in the downhill direction, as it would’ve proven quite the labour in the opposite.
As a descent however it was lovely, with smaller pockets of ruins appearing at various points and at times our path would take us right through (and also along) some of the ancient Incan terraces as well.
We initially held plans to find a late lunch in town, however instead made our search for onwards transport to Ollantaytambo, our proposed home for the evening the priority instead…
* Our ‘Boleto Turistico’ from Cusco cost $130.00 Soles, which allows access to Pisac as well 16 other sites.
* A colectivo to the town of Pisac (from Cusco) cost $3.00 Soles per person, but will only deliver you to the town. From there, you will either need to walk to the ruins (approximately 7km) or enlist the services of a taxi for a set fare of $25.00 Soles.